From animal farms to science experiments, Lola A. Åkerström spotlights three offbeat Stockholm experiences for families.
It seems Stockholm was built for families. Specifically families with small children. Beyond making public places, transportation, and buildings accessible for those with families and disabilities, there’s also an innate thoughtfulness that goes towards making the city family-friendly.
For example, parents pushing infants and toddlers in strollers can ride for free on public buses because parents aren’t supposed to leave their stroller-bound child unattended in the back of the bus while having to pay the bus driver.
Sweden itself has a strong literary culture geared towards children with world renowned authors like literary icon Astrid Lindgren and Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf who have penned dozens of classic books. Places like Junibacken in Stockholm and Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby, a town in southern Sweden, are themed attractions filled with vibrant settings, live performances, and other characters from her books such as Karlsson-on-the-roof, and Emil and Rasmus.
There are also child-specific libraries around town like Rum för Barn (Room for kids) which has children’s books in different languages as well as activities like painting, crafts, and sing-alongs.
That said – from animal farms to butterfly parks – here are a few more offbeat Stockholm experiences to enjoy with your kids beyond the classic attractions while exploring Stockholm deeper.
Stora Skuggan 4H-Farm
Located close to the heart of town on the northern part of Djurgården lies this animal farm chock full of domestic and free range grazing animals such as sheep, goats, cows, rabbits, hens, cats, horses, and ponies.
More than just a petting zoo, the vision of Stora Skuggan 4H-Farm is to encourage and inspire children to develop into committed and responsible individuals with a deep-seated respect for the environment. The farm achieves this by allowing organic interaction between kids and nature to discover their rich values and diversity.
Its character building concept is fashioned after the four (4) H’s in Swedish:
Huvud (Head) – which fosters asking questions and taking a stand for one’s values coupled with democracy.
Hand (Hand) – which symbolizes going from ideas to actions and taking responsibility for those actions.
Hjärta (Heart) – which means respecting every individual irrespective of gender, social or cultural background. Anyone who respects the outside world is aware of the interaction within and between animals, nature, and humans and can see himself as a part of the whole.
Hälsa (Health) – which signifies harmonic interaction between nature, animals and us humans, naturally translating to healthy lifestyles.
The farm offers a ton of activities and courses from guided tours, carriage and pony rides, camps, and fun group work.
Tom Tits Experiment
Optical illusions, earthquakes, storm winds, a robot-controlled mini roller coaster, and a slide that runs through the entire building are just a few of 600 different experiences at Tom Tit Experiment located in the town of Södertälje – a 30 minute train ride from Stockholm. The concept is based on the French character Tom Tit. Tom Tit is an imaginary figure who carried out a range of scientific experiments in the French magazine, l’Illustration, and in several books published at the end of the 19th century.
Tom Tits Experiment’s mission is to awaken and spread people’s interest in science and technology.
A few of the experiments and experiences on tap include color shadows where each color has its complementary color that brings out the “best of them” or strengthen them. In the Experiment, here are three different light sources in three different colors. There’s a soap bubble blower with interesting formations and surface light reflections. In its ball race, gravity comes to play with free falling balls.
There are blow holes, mirror mazes, mind games, illusion galleries, periodic tables, slides, spaceballs, other scientific experiments and enough geeky goodness to keep your kids entertained for hours.
Fjärilshuset – The Butterfly House
Located in lush Haga Park – home to Crown Princess Victoria and her family – is the Butterfly House which hosts thousands of butterflies alongside parrots and other tropical animals.
Among free-flying butterflies in large tropical greenhouses with man-made waterfalls and lush vegetation, you can discover the butterfly mating dance, watch larvae eat, and if you’re lucky, watch as a butterfly hatches from its cocoon. Some of the butterflies are imported as pupae while others go through their entire life cycle inside the greenhouses. There are no endangered butterflies at Fjärilshuset.
The Butterfly House covers over 3000 square meters of tropical space with its temperature never going below 25 degrees during the day. This high humidity allows the butterflies thrive. In a single year, there are thousands of butterflies at the house and you get to interact with at least 700 butterflies of varying species during each visit.
The Butterfly House recently opened its massive 30-meter-long shark tank, Haga Ocean, which holds 1.2 million liters of water filled with colorful fish and sharks. There are weekend talks hosted by resident zoologist Owe Sandström who gives lectures about the different types of sharks.